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For eighth year in a row, St. Luke's among top 15 health systems

By Anita Kissee, Notes and Announcements
April 27, 2021

Idaho and Eastern Oregon may be among the most remote locations in the country, but people here have access to some of the best health care. That’s according to IBM Watson Health, which has again included St. Luke’s on its list of the nation’s Top 15 health systems.

This is the eighth straight year the Idaho-based not-for-profit health care organization has received the prestigious national recognition. St. Luke’s is one of the youngest health systems on the Top 15 list, which includes such renowned health care systems as Mayo Clinic and our colleagues at Saint Alphonsus Health System.

“Receiving that initial recognition was a heavy lift. Sustaining it for these many years has been even more challenging. Consistent performance for eight straight years is a testament to our people, our leadership and most importantly, our culture of compassion and doing our best,” said Dr. Bart Hill, St. Luke’s vice president and chief quality officer, who called out IBM Watson Health’s stringent standards.

Dr. Hill says St. Luke’s is honored by the acknowledgment. It’s especially meaningful given all that hospitals, health systems and caregivers around the globe have done over the last year to care for their neighbors, friends, families and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This award validates what we already know to be true, that St. Luke’s dedicated and skilled team is committed to providing the highest quality and safest care possible,” Dr. Hill said. “Every single member of our frontline staff is a true hero for what they’ve done this year in the face of increased personal risk. They are a safety net for our community and being named a national leader validates the high standards they set out to achieve every day for our patients.”

The 2021 15 Top Health Systems report evaluated 324 U.S. health systems and the 2,522 hospitals that make up those health systems. Using specific clinical and administrative performance metrics, IBM Watson Health concentrated on metrics like how well patients recovered, whether they were satisfied with their care, how long they were in the hospital, what that treatment cost, any complications that may have occurred and the number of lives ultimately saved.

The top-performing health systems:

  • Had fewer patient complications and deaths.
  • Provided faster emergency care.
  • Safely sent patients home to recover sooner.
  • Had fewer patients returning to the hospital to be readmitted.
  • Scored higher in patients’ ratings of their hospital experiences.

IBM Watson Health’s ranking is among the most respected in the health care industry because of its methodology. The organization conducts its work completely independently. Researchers rely on objective, independent studies and public data. St. Luke’s did not apply for consideration, and winners do not pay to market their recognition.

The recognition validates the work St. Luke’s does to meet its mission: To improve the health of people in the communities we serve. Over the years, St. Luke’s has made a concerted effort across its eight hospitals and more than 200 clinics to ensure a standardized, high-quality approach to care.

“There is great pride in knowing that the sacred work that we as health care workers do every day is making a difference in the lives of our neighbors and being recognized by others, particularly over this past year.,” Dr. Hill said.

St. Luke’s is also proud to see Saint Alphonsus Health System on the 2021 list for the second year. No other community in the country has two health systems in the Top 15 ranking, making the level of health care here unprecedented in quality.

The 15 Top Health Systems study provides hospital administrators with important, evidence-based insights into the effectiveness of their leadership teams, organizational performance and management alignment. This research allows health systems to understand how they compare with peers and national benchmarks when it comes to quality of care, operations and patient satisfaction.

The public data that IBM Watson Health evaluated includes Medicare cost reports, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MEDPAR) data and core measures and patient satisfaction data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website. More information on this study and other 100 Top Hospitals research can be found at

About The Author

Anita Kisseé was the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.